The Productivity Paradox

How many times have you found yourself with a canceled appointment and you frantically looked for something to do to fill that space?

We’ve all been there. Not wanting to waste a single moment of possible productivity.  

Somewhere along the way we’ve managed to attach our happiness and success to our productivity. This has resulted in a population that is over-committed and utterly exhausted. The thought is that if we fill our days and max out our “to-do” lists then we’ll gain more satisfaction.  

To what end though? 

Over the last few years, our ideas of being productive have been challenged. However, the deeply engrained desire to feel successful was greater than the forced change in pace the pandemic brought us. We simply adapted by attending as many virtual meetings as possible, outlining completed tasks for employers who never cared before, and fitting in as many home projects as possible.  The work-life balance dynamic has certainly shifted – and so should our mindset on what being productive entails. 

But what if we’re missing something? What if there is another variable to add to the productivity equation? 

That brings me to downtime. I’m sure you’re uncomfortable at the mere thought of allowing space to do nothing. I’ve often heard people mention feelings of guilt when trying to allow themselves this kind of space. We can’t even wrap our heads around finding the space for relaxation let alone utilizing the time because our commitments don’t allow for it.  

A challenge for you… 

What if we begin scheduling our downtime in the same way we schedule other important meetings? Look at your day and decide where you can allow yourself to do nothing for just 10-15 minutes. Sit with that discomfort and fight the urge to run a mental check-in your head of everything you’ll do when that time is up. The goal is to eventually extend that time as you can. Maybe when you have a canceled appointment your first thought will be “Awesome! An opportunity for downtime!” 

You’d be surprised at how restorative downtime can be. My hope is that we can start changing our thoughts around what it means to be productive. Maybe we can consider the restorative practice of doing nothing as a factor in productivity as well. 


About Whitney Miklos: 

Whitney is a Supervisee in Clinical Social Work and provides teletherapy to residents of Virginia. She graduated from Bridgewater College with a B.S. in Sociology and a minor in Social Work. She then received her Master’s in Social Work from Tulane University. Throughout her time at Tulane, she worked with both undergraduate and graduate students at Loyola University New Orleans Campus to provide individual therapy, crisis intervention, and other social work services.

Upon graduation, Whitney has continued to provide individual therapy to young adults and adolescents in various settings. She has also had the opportunity to provide consultation to educators seeking to become more trauma-informed in the classroom. Whitney has also provided support services to caregivers. Whitney honors the unique needs of each individual and believes it is important to tailor treatment accordingly.

To learn more about Whitney, visit HERE.

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